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Mass. Group Seeks a Ban on Pledge of Allegiance in Schools

Mass. Group Seeks a Ban on Pledge of Allegiance in Schools

Correction Appended

Just days before the 10th anniversary of 9/11, a political action group in one Massachusetts town is calling for schools to stop the practice of reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in the classroom. The group claims that reciting the Pledge has no educational value and that it puts unnecessary pressure on students who don't want to say it.

Brookline Political Action for Peace, or Brookline Pax, says that merely giving the students the option of whether or not they participate in the saying of the Pledge is not enough, arguing that students who don't say it are often criticized by classmates and sometimes bullied.

“It just puts kids in an uncomfortable situation,” the organization's co-chair, Martin Rosenthal, told the Boston Globe.

The Brookline public school system's current policy requires principals from each school to have each classroom recite the Pledge on at least a weekly basis during the morning announcements, though student participation is voluntary. The policy was instituted earlier this year.

Brookline Pax has submitted the petition for consideration at November’s Town Meeting with the hope that representatives will vote to urge the School Committee to change the Pledge policy. The group suggests that the recital of the pledge in “captive” settings, such as the classroom, under the authority of the principal, is wrong, and that to say it is voluntary in such a setting is an “oxymoron.”

“It is literally and psychologically a 'loyalty oath'...reminiscent of McCarthyism or some horrific totalitarian regimes,” the petition reads.

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick avoided taking a position on the Pledge issue Thursday, telling the Boston Herald, “I don't have to have an opinion on everything” and “I have more important things to worry about.”

Patrick is the co-chairman of President Barack Obama's 2012 national campaign committee and is suspected to have presidential ambitions of his own.

Rebecca Stone, school committee chairperson, agrees with Brookline Pax that saying the Pledge doesn't have “great educational value,” but says that, by saying it (the Pledge), “we're recognizing established, and in some cases revered, practices of the citizenry,” the Boston Globe reported.

Christie Coombs, whose husband, Jeff, was a victim of the fatal 9/11 crash of American Airlines Flight 11, expressed her disgust at the idea of removing the Pledge.

“America has been through a lot with the bad economy and soldiers dying in Afghanistan on a weekly basis, but we’ve pulled back together. A majority of Americans are proud to pay tribute to the flag,” she told the Herald. “I hope the town of Brookline looks at this and says it’s nonsense and can’t be done.”

Correction: Friday, September 9, 2011

An article on Friday, September 9, 2011 about a Brookline, Mass. organization that is trying to stop local schools from having students say the Pledge of Allegiance in mandatory settings incorrectly stated that a petition was submitted by Brookline Pax to the school committee. Brookline Pax actually submitted the petition, which will be considered at November's Town Meeting, with the hopes that representatives will vote to urge the School Committee to change the Pledge policy.

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